Inequalities in the control of the occupational exposure in France to carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic chemicals

Eur J Public Health. 2019 Feb 1;29(1):140-147. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cky130.


Background: Our study examined the social disparities that exist in the implementation of protection measures for occupational exposure to carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic agents in France, and its aim was to identify which types of employees/jobs require priority action.

Methods: We analyzed data from the 2010 French national cross-sectional survey of occupational hazards. The availability of the various collective and individual protections was explored. The associations of job and company characteristics with protective measures were studied by multilevel regressions.

Results: Effective collective protection measures were implemented in 25% of the exposure situations. Managers and intellectual professionals, who accumulated lower CMR exposure prevalences, durations, and intensities than blue-collar workers, benefited the most from effective collective protections. The availability of effective collective protection measures was not influenced by the size of the company. The presence of a Committee for health, safety, and work conditions, as well as intervention of occupational health and safety officers in the past 12 months were associated with a lower exposure intensity, but not with the implementation of more protection measures. Longer exposure durations were associated with more effective collective protection.

Conclusion: Substantial discrepancies were observed in exposure levels and protection measures as a function of the characteristics of employees' jobs and the companies that they work for. The main priority in regard to prevention should be a focus on unskilled workers, since their collective protection still appears to be insufficient, while their exposure lengths and intensities were the most substantial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • France
  • Hazardous Substances / toxicity*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutagens / toxicity*
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupational Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors


  • Carcinogens
  • Hazardous Substances
  • Mutagens